Mom was hospitalized twice this year for congestive heart failure. Oxygen level was 69 the first time and took days to reach the 90's. The second time was not as bad but did take days to reach and stay int he 90's. She is 69. Has asthma, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, was a heavy smoker until Feb of this year. We have noticed her memory is terrible. The decline is remarkable since her Feb. hospital stay. She doesn't use the apnea machine like she should, feels like she is suffocating (is clostrophobic). My question is, how liekly is it her memory problems are connected to the lack of oxygen and cell death as oposed to alezheimers?
We can't speak to the possibility of Alzheimer's disease. Your mom’s doctors would have to make that evaluation.
Heart failure, unless accompanied by increased fluid in the lungs, called pulmonary edema, is ordinarily not a cause of low oxygen levels, especially to the degree of 69%. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a much more likely cause, especially given your mom’s history of heavy smoking.
Yes, her memory loss, depression and possibly also a steep decline in cognitive function is very likely on the basis of chronic oxygen deprivation when awake, and exaggerated oxygen deprivation during sleep. And, low oxygen levels can contribute significantly to heart failure and make it less responsive to therapy than it would otherwise be.
What you describe suggests that she should definitely be using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device for her sleep apnea. The first step would be to request vigorous hands-on efforts by the sleep laboratory team to help your mom adjust to the CPAP and use it in an effective manner. This takes their expertise and requires time and patience. If after serious attempts to make this work, she is still unable to use the apnea machine, she should be placed on continuous oxygen during sleep, the appropriate oxygen flow rate to be determined by her doctors.
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